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Snowmobile clubs still facing challenges after mild winter

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Snowmobile clubs still facing challenges after mild winter
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With winter just around the corner, snowmobilers are anxiously watching the skies and hoping New York sees more snowfall than it did last year. Meanwhile, the clubs responsible for the upkeep of trails are busy getting ready for the coming season. But as our Sarah Blazonis tells us, they're still facing challenges from last year's mild weather.

ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- The Lafayette Trail Riders snowmobile club's groomers are designed to get miles of trails ready for hundreds of snowmobilers to travel on, but last year, the machines didn't leave their garage.

"We had them all pre-seasoned, maintained," said Tim Rosenberg, trail coordinator for the Lafayette club. "Needless to say, this year there wasn't much preparation in getting them prepared to go."

Rosenberg says the club is almost done getting its 58 miles of trails ready for the coming season and it's facing challenges being seen statewide.

The New York State Snowmobile Association says it's because of last year's lack of snow that snowmobile registrations are down by 45,000 statewide. That's left a $2 million gap in funds normally used for trail maintenance and clubs say they're feeling the effects.

"Everybody's trail fund will be down about half this year and if we have good snow, if we groom like we usually groom, we're going to be very short funded. We're going to be scrambling for money," said Tim Taylor, president of the Toad Hollow Trail Riders Club.

There's still a chance that could change. The snowmobile association says the Office of Parks delayed setting the rate for how much clubs are reimbursed for maintenance.

"We're hoping that people will register their sleds. The more people that register their sleds, the better chance of a higher reimbursement rate to the clubs at this point. But it's got to happen soon," said NYSSA President Gary Broderick.

In the meantime, clubs say they're looking into possible donations of equipment and supplies to help them through the winter and hoping more than groomers get out on the trails this year.

Trails typically open after hunting season ends and once enough snow is on the ground. You can check with your local snowmobile club to find out when trails open in your area.

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